What Are Permalinks and How to Choose Them

‘Permalink’ is a portmanteau. This means it is two words that have been combined into one and very often, this can give us a very good clue as to what the meaning of that new word is.

In the case of permalink then, we have the first half (permanent) and the second half (link). When you put them together, you have a permanent link, which we can probably safely assume is a link that isn’t going anywhere.

This in turn refers specifically to the links that you have for your WordPress blog posts. When you make a post on WordPress, it will normally be somewhat temporary in nature. Blogs are like diaries or news sites in many cases and are regularly updated with new content each day. The posts stay on the homepage for a while, until enough new posts come along to push them to the bottom.

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This is great in as much as it provides a constant turnover of new content for your visitors and ensures that there’s always something new and (hopefully) interesting to read on your site.

But it’s not so great when it comes to SEO or business. That’s because the link from the homepage doesn’t remain for very long and people quickly lose any way to reach it. While the links created by WordPress are permanent in as much as they won’t change, they also tend to be randomly generated. This means that all Google has to look for is a random string of numbers and letters with no permanent link to help it get there. That means that Google can’t easily link to it, or tell what it’s all about. And it doesn’t look incredibly professional to your visitors either! Especially if they go to copy your permalink and find it’s massively long…

Fortunately, we can change all this and choose our own permalinks fairly easily, which will make our sites much easier to find on WordPress, more professional looking and more popular!

The Easy Way to Create Permalinks

The good news is that there is one very easy way to create permalinks. What’s also good news is that this is now actually less of an issue.

That’s because the most recent versions of WordPress have done away with the old linking convention. Today, the links that get generated automatically by WordPress will be based on your blog title by default. So if you called your post ‘My-First-Blog-Post’ then those words are going to be right there in your permalink.

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This is good news but you might find that you actually want to edit it still. Why? Because you might well have a strategy in terms of your SEO and renaming your permalink can help with this. What’s more, is that your post title might be very long or somewhat random. If your blog post is called:

‘Here’s Why Everyone Struggles to Get Abs the First Time – It’s All to Do With Energy! (And I Know How to Fix It)’
Then the automatically generated link is not going to look correct necessarily.

In this case, you might get the following:

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Fortunately, you’ve probably already noticed the handy ‘Edit’ button right there next to our permalink preview. This is going to make life nice and simple for us, as all we need to do is hit that button and we’ll then be able to enter the new text we want into the post.

This can also be useful if we edit our post title later on during the process. Just note that changing your permalink will render any existing links to your articles from other websites inert.

More Options

You might also notice that your posts are placed automatically into a long series of folders. In this case, we have folders based on the date that we wrote the post – 7/7/2016. This is of course a convention that allows WordPress to organize your posts and it also allows you to more easily find the posts you’re looking for by month, year and day. If you post a lot, this can become incredibly helpful as you start needing to find those old posts or backing them up.

However, it can also be a pain if you want people to be able to quickly locate posts on your site. This isn’t quite as much of a problem as the old system of using random letters and numbers to name permalinks but it’s not ideal either!
Luckily, this can be changed easily enough with the right plugin.

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There are plenty of plugins in the WordPress store that handle this for you and especially owing to the old system which practically necessitated their existence. If you’re not sure how to use plugins yet, then go ahead and read our post on how to do that. These can allow you to do all sorts of fancy things to help you save time and end up with great looking permalinks.

But to be honest, WordPress already gives you most of the options you would need and as usual, it makes things as simple as can be. Just head into Settings > Permalinks and then choose your convention. You can also create custom setups here.

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What Permalinks to Use

So now you have the power to call your posts anything you like and create flexible links for them, what should you start calling them? The simple answer is that you should make them reflect the content you’re writing about and you should make them pleasant for a human to read. At the same time, thinking in terms of keyphrases and what people search can’t hurt either.

If your permalink is currently:
www.example.com/2016/7/7/how-to-build-yourself-a-fantastic-home-office

Then changing that to:
www.example.com/build-a-home-office

Will make it more memorable, more professional and more searchable. Just remember that you shouldn’t change your permalink once your post is live in case someone has linked to you and you end up making that link go to waste! The good news is that WordPress will at least clean up internal links when you do this though.